The year 2021 has a lot of expectations riding on it. After a pandemic riddled 2020, filled with the fear of the unknown. The strangeness of an entire year in lockdown has ushered in a world that has forever changed. People are manifesting their dreams into reality. Partly through the fear of missing out (FOMO) and otherwise emboldened by having come out the other side of a deep void of a quarantine.
Consumer #FOMO is spreading where we work and play, from the housing market to the travel industry (Revenge Travelers). Next in line? The marketing department with #FOMO and an Impending Cookie-less Future
Marketers feel #FOMO especially considering Apple’s latest preview for the release of iOS 15 which inhibits the collection of personal information including IP addresses, email addresses and the biggest offenders i.e., invisible tracking cookies. Google also has a raft of ideas to reduce the third-party tracking cookie’s ability to track users of the internet.
What Google, Firefox and Apple are doing is not at all unexpected. Internet users’ privacy has been abused and governments have heard from their citizens – GDPR, CCPA and other protection directives have all been created to restore privacy back to the users. Data protections are necessary. Google and Apple are simply building higher walls upon already high walls.
At first thought, as a marketer – having been trained in the ways of Data Management Platforms (DMPs) and Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) and eeking out value based on the deep insight gleaned on guests, forming segments and marketing to the last $0.01 value – the current marketing tactics will forever disappear. This is the type of thinking that leads to #FOMO and an impending cookie-less future.
The cookies most likely to be affected by these fast-upcoming changes are in the realm of third-party data. Which is where the demographic data, user behavior, age, origin, gender etc. are collected. These are usually created by domains that the web visitor is not actually visiting. This type of third-party cookie is a script that is used for online advertising purposes.
However, first-party cookies will continue to persist. This type of cookie enables the visitor to have the same experience every time they visit their favorite websites.
Reducing #FOMO and What Comes Next
The cookie-less future points to a more deliberate online marketing experience that utilizes first-party data and works within the confines of data protection actions to deliver value-based advertising in a timely manner. The inherent winners will be marketers who have continued to adhere to delivering a white glove experience to their audiences.
Step #1 Do not Panic.
Understanding the situation will make things clearer. The removal of 3rd party cookies will affect you if you use them heavily. Also, Google has not yet fully announced how the cookie-less future will look. Stay on top of the news coming directly from Google, Apple, and Firefox.
Step #2 Do an Audit of your Third-Party Cookies
Knowing where you are using your 3rd party cookies will help you get ahead of the problem. Do a thorough inventory of where these cookies exist. The focal point will be within your digital acquisition marketing – particularly PPC, retargeting, social, tracking technology and programmatic varieties. If you have an agency partner, ask them to help you do the audit.
Step #3 Focus on First-Party Data & Cookies
First party data is collected by you directly or by your CRM (Customer Relationship Management). This is incredibly important for the future as the data holds massive insight on your guests. Fortunately for you, NAVIS performs as a trifecta as your direct booking engine, marketing suite and your first-party cookie data driven CRM.
Be sure to pay particular attention to whether the guests in the data platform have opted into receiving marketing messaging from you.
Step #4 Plan for Deprecating Third Party Cookies and Gap Analysis
Now that you have gone through Steps 1-3, you should have a clearer idea as to where the gaps are in your customer data pipeline. You will know which third-party cookies will disappear soon and exactly what data your first party customer data platform collects. Research how to fill these gaps or ask for further insight from your agency.
Step #5 Keep Going
The changing cookie landscape can be stressful, time consuming and bring an overwrought sense of impending doom. The truth is the dissipation of the third-party cookies will force marketers to engage guest in diverse ways. You may begin to test other marketing platforms, try a different CRM, or find new and improved ways to collect customer data.
Permanently Changed Marketing Landscape
Due to a poor user experience on the internet today, third-party cookies are being deprecated. But with a little planning and deliberation on next steps, you can account for the loss of this form of data and avoid a last-minute upheaval when the cookies are abandoned.
It is up to you, the white hat marketer, to make a measurable, timely and meaningful white gloved impact for your properties and to your guests.
Author: Krishna Shastry, Product Manager, NAVIS